HS Volleyball Playoffs: State-bound! Grand Oaks Advances to Garland via Sweep Against Tomball Memorial

By: Jake Wilson
| Published 11/11/2023


LUFKIN, TX -- The Grand Oaks Lady Grizzlies bested the Tomball Memorial Lady Wildcats in straight sets during the UIL Regional Finals with the right to advance to the State Tournament.

The crowd inside the Panther Activity Center witnessed a contested first set that began with both teams trading the lead back and forth.

After the initial jockeying of points that opened up the match, normalcy returned for the Lady Grizzlies, who mounted a pair of 3-0 runs to push the advantage early.

In an exclusive interview with The Woodlands Online Sports, Grand Oaks Head Coach Morgan Rogers laid out the importance of a strong open against a fellow playoff team.

“We talked about setting the tone and making the other team play at our pace,” said Rogers. “We worked to play at our tempo and our style of volleyball.”

A Grand Oaks run continued through a Lady Wildcat timeout, further inching the lead in the Lady Grizzlies’ favor. The lead got as high as 12 for The Lady Grizzlies, who coasted due to the heightened production of the front row.

Points from a row that drove home powerful kills and blocked almost anything coming over the net kept Grand Oaks in front for a comfortable 25-13 win in the opening set.

Tomball Memorial brought a fight into the second set after taking some time between sets to make adjustments.

Prolonged volleys and a revitalized crowd wore down the Grand Oaks defenders, allowing the Lady Wildcats to pepper the open areas for points.

A 4-0 run from Tomball Memorial brought the teams even after hitting double digits, and another run after some Grand Oaks points brought the lead to the Lady Wildcats’ side.

The run got to the point that the Lady Grizzlies were forced to take a timeout to recollect themselves and refocus on salvaging the set.

“We struggled to move on from the uncontrollable things,” said Rogers. “Once we got off our head, we settled down and got the focus on our side.”

Even following the timeout, the lead continued to grow in the Lady Wildcats’ favor due to defensive lapses and Grand Oaks hits falling out of bounds.

After some more points for Tomball Memorial, a connection was made on the Lady Grizzlies' side of the floor. A 4-0 run featuring miscues from the Lady Wildcats brought Grand Oaks back from the brink.

The run kept increasing to 10 despite Tomball Memorial calling multiple timeouts to prevent the set from slipping away. The strategy could not stop the scoring onslaught from the Lady Grizzlies that ended with a 25-18 win.

“They started believing,” said Rogers on her team salvaging the second set. “They had that end goal in mind. And they knew it was within reach. They were hungry and ready to go for it.”

Tomball Memorial’s season was in jeopardy to start the third due to the 0-2 deficit they had been dealt by the Lady Grizzlies.

Knowing their opponent was desperate to prevent the sweep, the Lady Grizzlies put their foot on the gas and opened with a 6-0 run.

The occasional point from the Lady Wildcats ended any chances of sustained runs from Grand Oaks, but momentum had already swung too firmly on Grand Oaks’ side for the pressure to stop.

The Lady Grizzlies’ lead swelled to 10 before a Lady Wildcat timeout tried to stop the Grand Oaks train from rolling further. But instead of stopping the misery for Tomball Memorial, the timeout prolonged the inevitable.

Sporadic scoring ensued from the Lady Wildcats that brought the lead close to single digits of tying, but the reinsertion of Grand Oaks’ Jaela Auguste sealed the deal for the Lady Grizzlies.

Some more points traded between the two programs saw Grand Oaks inch closer and closer to victory, which finally came at 25-15.

The straight-set streak ended for Grand Oaks in the previous round against Sachse, but the unbeaten run stretching back to August remains alive to the State Tournament for the Lady Grizzlies.

“We had our eyes on the prize,” said Rogers. “We’ve had this on our mind since the beginning of the season.”

A tough second set and a battle against Sachse in the Regional Semifinals encouraged adjustments from the Grand Oaks side that they hope to continue going into State.

“We have to keep the mentality in mind to go out and finish,” said Rogers. “I think our serve/receive needs to improve, but offensively, people were on fire today.”

The next challenge for the Lady Grizzlies comes in the State Tournament in Garland, which will take place between the 15-18.

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